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(Q) Some of the scriptures in the Bible talk about the true God, who is the “TRUE GOD” of the Bible?
(Part Five of five)
The Deity of the Holy Spirit
(A) Christianity has traditionally taught that the Holy Spirit is the third Person or Hypostasis of the Godhead. Some, however, have taught that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force used by God. Is the Holy Spirit God, or simply a power of God? Let’s examine the biblical teachings.
Scripture speaks repeatedly of the Holy Spirit, known also as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Scripture indicates that the Holy Spirit is of the same essence as the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is ascribed with the attributes of God, is equated with God and does work that only God does.
Attributes of God
1. Holiness: In more than 90 places, the Bible calls the Spirit of God “the Holy Spirit.” Holiness is a basic characteristic of the Spirit. The Spirit is so holy that blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven, although blasphemy against Jesus could be Matt. 12:32. Insulting the Spirit is just as sinful as trampling the Son of God under foot Heb. 10:29. This indicates that the Spirit is inherently holy, holy in essence, rather than having an assigned or secondary holiness such as the temple had.
The Spirit also has the infinite attributes of God: unlimited in time, space, power and knowledge.
2. Eternality: The Holy Spirit, the Counselor, will be with us “forever” John 14:16. The Spirit is “eternal” Heb. 9:14.
3. Omnipresence: David, praising God’s greatness, asked, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” Ps. 139:7-8. God’s Spirit, which David uses as a synonym for the presence of God himself, is in heaven and in sheol v. 8, in the east and in the west v. 9.
God’s Spirit can be said to be poured out on someone, to fill a person, or to descend — yet without implying that the Spirit has moved away from or vacated some other place. “Such statements are grounded in the premises of omnipresence and eternality — attributes ascribed properly only to God”
4. Omnipotence: The works that God does, such as creation, are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30. Miracles of Jesus Christ were done “by the Spirit” Matt. 12:28. In Paul’s ministry, the work that “Christ has accomplished” was done “through the power of the Spirit” Rom. 15:18-19.
5. Omniscience: “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God,” Paul said in 1 Cor. 2:10. The Spirit of God “knows the thoughts of God” v. 11. The Spirit therefore knows all things, and is able to teach all things John 14:26.
Holiness, eternality, omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience are attributes of God’s essence, that is, characteristic of the nature of divine existence. The Holy Spirit has the basic attributes of God.
Equated with God
1. Several passages discuss the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as equals. In a discussion of spiritual gifts, Paul puts the Spirit, the Lord, and God in grammatically parallel constructions 1 Cor. 12:4-6. Paul closes a letter with a three-part prayer: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” 2 Cor. 13:14. Peter begins a letter with this three-part formula: “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood” 1 Peter 1:2.
The baptismal formula has a strong implication of unity — “in the name [singular] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matt. 28:19. The Father, Son, and Spirit share a common name, indicating common essence and equality. This verse indicates both plurality and unity. Three names are given, but all three share one name.
2. Word interchanges. Acts 5:3 says that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit; verse 4 says that Ananias lied to God. This indicates that “the Holy Spirit” and “God” are interchangeable and thus that the Holy Spirit is God. Some people try to explain this by saying that Ananias lied to God only indirectly, simply because the Holy Spirit represented God. This interpretation might be grammatically possible, but it would imply the personality of the Holy Spirit as a divine representative, for one does not lie to an impersonal power. Moreover, Peter told Ananias that he lied not to humans, but to God. The force of the passage is that Ananias has lied not merely to God’s representatives, but to God himself, and the Holy Spirit is God to whom Ananias lied.
Another word interchange can be seen in 1 Cor. 3:16 and 6:19. Christians are not only temples of God, they are also temples of the Holy Spirit; the two expressions mean the same thing. A temple, of course, is a habitation for a deity, not a habitation for an impersonal power. When Paul writes “temple of the Holy Spirit,” he implies that the Holy Spirit is God.
Another type of verbal equation between God and the Holy Spirit is seen in Acts 13:2: “The Holy Spirit said, `Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Here, the Holy Spirit speaks on behalf of God, as God. In the same way, Heb. 3:7-11 tells us that the Holy Spirit says the Israelites “tested and tried me”; the Holy Spirit says that “I was angry…. They shall never enter my rest.” The Holy Spirit is equated with the God of the Israelites. Heb. 10:15-17 also equates the Spirit and the Lord who makes the new covenant. The Spirit who inspired the prophets is God. This is the work of God the Holy Spirit, which leads us to our next section.
1. Creating: The Holy Spirit does work that only God can do, such as creating Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30 and expelling demons Matt. 12:28.
2. Begetting: The Spirit begot the Son of God Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35, and the full divinity of the Son Col. 1:19 implies the full divinity of the Begetter.
The Spirit begets believers, too — they are born of God John 1:12 and equally born of the Spirit John 3:5. “The Spirit gives [eternal] life” John 6:63. The Spirit is the power by which we will be resurrected Rom. 8:11.
3. Indwelling: The Holy Spirit is the way in which God lives in his children Eph. 2:22; 1 John 3:24; 4:13. The Holy Spirit “lives” in us Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 3:16 — and because the Spirit lives in us, we are able to say that God lives in us. We can say that God lives in us only because the Holy Spirit is in some way God. The Spirit is not a representative or a power that lives in us — God himself lives in us. “To have dealings with the Spirit, no less than with the Father and the Son, is to have dealings with God”
4. Sanctifying: The Holy Spirit makes people holy Rom. 15:16; 1 Pet. 1:2. The Spirit enables people to enter the kingdom of God John 3:5. We are saved “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit” 2 Thess. 2:13.
In all these things, the works of the Spirit are the works of God. Whatever the Spirit says or does, God is saying or doing; the Spirit is fully representative of God.
Personality of the Holy Spirit
Scripture describes the Holy Spirit as having personal characteristics: The Spirit has mind and will, speaks and can be spoken to, and acts and intercedes for us. All these indicate personality in the theological sense: The Holy Spirit is a Person or Hypostasis in the same sense that the Father and Son are. Our relationship with God, which is accomplished by the Holy Spirit, is a personal relationship.
Life and intelligence
1. Life: The Holy Spirit “lives” Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 3:16.
2. Intelligence: The Spirit “knows” 1 Cor. 2:11. Rom. 8:27 refers to “the mind of the Spirit.” This mind is able to make judgments — a decision “seemed good” to the Holy Spirit Acts 15:28. These verses imply a distinct intelligence.
3. Will: 1 Cor. 12:11 says that the Spirit “determines” decisions, showing that the Spirit has a will. The Greek word means “he or it determines.” Although the Greek word does not specify the subject of the verb, the most likely subject in the context is the Spirit. To find a different subject, one would have to backtrack through five verses and six mentions of the Spirit. But this grammatical leapfrogging is not necessary. Since we know from other verses that the Spirit has mind and knowledge and judgment, there is no reason to reject the conclusion in 1 Cor. 12:11 that the Spirit also has will.
1. Speaking: Numerous verses say that the Holy Spirit spoke Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 21:11; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 3:7. “The Spirit speaks in the first person as `I’; `It was I who sent them’ Acts 10:20…. `I have called them’ Acts 13:2. None but a person can say “I.”
2. Interaction: The Spirit may be lied to Acts 5:3, which indicates that the Spirit may be spoken to. The Spirit may be tested Acts 5:9, insulted Heb. 10:29, or blasphemed Matt. 12:31, which implies personal status, guiding Rom. 8:14, convicting John 16:8, interceding Rom. 8:26, calling Acts 13:2, commissioning Acts 20:28…. Only a person can be vexed Isa. 63:10, or grieved Eph. 4:30.“
3. Paraclete: Jesus called the Holy Spirit the parakletos — the Comforter, Advocate or Counselor. The Paraclete is active, teaching John 14:26, testifying 15:26, convicting 16:8, guiding 16:13 and making truth known 16:14.
Scripture indicates that the Holy Spirit has divine attributes and works, and is spoken of in the same way that the Father and Son are. The Holy Spirit is intelligent, and speaks and acts like a Person. This is part of the scriptural evidence that led early Christians to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity.
Three points that emerge from this survey of the New Testament data are: (1) The Holy Spirit is everywhere regarded as God; (2) He is God in distinction from the Father and the Son; (3) His deity does not infringe upon the divine unity. In other words, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the triune Godhead.
Although Scripture does not directly say that “the Holy Spirit is God,” or that God is triune, these conclusions are based on scriptural evidence. Based on biblical evidence, we teach that the Holy Spirit is God in the same way that the Father is God and the Son is God.
Who then is the “True God” of the Bible? We can say with complete confidence, ALL THE ABOVE! Elohiym is the one True God; Jehovah is the one True God; Logos is the one True God; The Word is the one True God; The Father is the one True God; The Son, Christ Jesus is the one True God; The Holy Spirit is the one True God. These are all one and the same God being, they are not separate beings, there is only ONE GOD. However, because of the diversity in the nature of God, as this article has proven, this one God being has three divine spiritual persons in His essence as the one True God. It is fact that the one True God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a trinity. All three persons make up the one True Godhead.
If this is confusing, welcome to the club. No human being has ever, or will ever completely comprehend God as one being in three divine persons. But remember, God is a spiritual being, not subject to our physical laws, and God is far superior to our finite understanding.
As Christians, we believe by faith all that God reveals about Himself is true, because God cannot lie, Titus 1:2: 2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. Also, we must have complete faith and trust in God that He will perform all He has promised in His Holy Word, the Bible. Hebrews 11:6: 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Come, put your life and salvation in the hands of this one True and mighty God in the person of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.
(End of five of five)
Maranatha, (Lord come)